Not So Heavenly images

Now if I had been paying attention to our tour guide, Mrs. Duck, I would know exactly where I took these images. I think this may be the Monastery of Saint Jerome but I am not 100% sure. I love wandering around cathedrals, monasteries and the like. Even better if there is good music on offer. I have many happy memories of concerts in Winchester Cathedral. Usually it is possible to be awed both by the grand scale of the building itself and the intricate carvings and detail that are to be found. Here are examples of both.

Monastery of Saint Jerome

Monastery of Saint Jerome

The next shot shows a little camera shake – I shot this at 1/25s, way below what is acceptable. I was also shooting at F2.8 with shallow DoF. I desperately needed more light.

Monastery of Saint Jerome

Monastery of Saint Jerome

Monastery of Saint Jerome

Monastery of Saint Jerome

church stoneheads2



For a photographer it is immensely frustrating trying to do justice to these buildings. Flash is not allowed, which I understand and support. Tripods are also usually banned although sometimes a permit may be purchased. So we plod on, looking for support wherever we can find it, reducing shutter speeds and stretching ISO and DoF as far as we dare. The wide dynamic range is also a challenge. Light floods through the windows illuminating some areas, whilst others are deep in the shadows. Stained glass windows are always tricky. I did not try here. You may recall this shot:

Bud light

Look carefully at the window above my friend. Burnt out. No detail. I have recovered the shadow detail as best I can and used the contrast with the pool of light he is about to step into to try and give some sort of ethereal feel to this. I find monochrome works better in these instances and hides a multitude of sins.

Shooting at ISO 3200 is always a stretch and at least one of these images was at 1/15s. That is a long, long time to keep a camera steady without support. Good luck if you try church interiors and my best advice is ‘brace yourself’!


20 thoughts on “Not So Heavenly images

  1. There’s always ISO3200 to ISO6400! I have shot many times with the X Trans sensor and got very pleasing results, particularly in b&w. You might also consider bracketing and tone mapping though I abhor most overcooked HDR’s. JMHO, YMMV

    You’ve compiled a wonderful travel portfolio Andrew!

    • I have tried 6400 indoors Barry and it is not too bad. I have not seriously tried bracketing and tone mapping. The few efforts I made were very ugly. I should have upped the auto ISO max to 6400. It is set to choose from 200 to 3200 and to always default to 200 if the shutter speed is >1/60s (I think).

      • Personally I have my X-T1 set to Auto ISO 6400 and minimum 1/60 as grain looks better to me than blur. I have experimented with b&w HDR but always err on the side of caution. One trick I have learned is to increase global contrast( tastefully so) which helps high ISO images.
        I must also thank you, along with Calgary photographer Rob McKay(no relation) for convincing me of the value of Fuji’s X Trans. Following both of ypur leads I purchased an X100s then more recently the X-T1. Best photographic investment(other than practiise) that I have made. I now have almost as much Fuji glass as I have Pentax. Thank you!

  2. Glorious images you managed in low light/difficult settings. This Monastery is certainly awe inspiring!

  3. Although I am not at all a person with any religion in the traditional sense, I also love the old construction and architecture of cathedrals/churches. Some fabulous solid art. And all well represented in your images, Andrew.
    The last image does have that blown out highlight problem, but if he is a pilgrim in the “Church of the Blinding Light” then all is well. 🙂
    Which version of PS are you using? Although I have not tried it yet, PSCC does have the camera shake sharpening thingy. I had forgot all about that until your mention of camera shake. Maybe I can save my bunnies. 🙂

  4. I know very little about cameras and lenses and lighting, but I know what I like. And this is a wonderful series of photographs. The Monastery of Saint Jerome is a fascinating mix of solemn and amazing, especially the line of faces.

    • It is indeed majestic – not too ornate. It does not have the extravagance of the Baroque or the Rococo but impressive in its own right.

  5. All are beautiful since I am quite fond of monochrome. The Monastery of Saint Jerome is magnificient. You worked hard to get these so now relax and “play” with them some more in some kind of photoshop thingy and have fun.

  6. This was a treat (my first degree was in Art History – mediaeval specialism), In those days all our research illustrations were black and white and were like poor versions of your beautiful, long interior shot. I love the ones of the roof tracery; the patterns are so natural, like close-ups of flower-heads.

    • It is easy to forget how recent colour and digital reproduction are. Most of my older natural history books are adorned with B&W illustrations or the colour plates are from paintings. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos, Hilary.

  7. I get goosebumps when I go in to buildings like these. I also get neck ache from spending so much time looking up at the vaulted ceilings and carvings. But they are glorious places and you have paid good homage to them in your photographs. Pete and I spent some time in Burgos cathedral earlier this year. What a splendid place it is but I cannot share my visit with you, the photographs that I took were terrible!!

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